It has been a relatively subdued session, with not much action in either stocks or bonds - European stocks rise for the second day on US market momentum from yesterday; Asian stocks are mixed advance while metals decline with Brent, WTI crude, U.S. equity index futures. The biggest highlight in overnight action, however, was once again the Dollar whick climbed to a fresh 4-year high, on pace to strengthen for 2 straight months for first time since March. The reason: ongoing sentiment that there will be a major dispersion between central banks, with the USD tightening just as other central banks join the liquidity fray. To wit, ECB data showed that lending decline in Europe slowed to -1.5% y/y in Aug. vs -1.6% in July and the latest statement from Draghi who said in Lithuania that economic reform possible without devaluing currency.
After the end of the cold war, the United States dominated world affairs for nearly twenty years. However, the situation of a unipolar world has changed since the financial crisis of 2008 to a now multipolar world that includes China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa. These powers are influencing and manipulating the conflict zones we have today to their advantage. By analysing and dissecting the issues concerning the major conflict zones on our world map, as well as illustrating the parties involved, this article will explain what political and strategic interests are at play and how the development in major hotspots shape the big picture. This will identify the geopolitical forces that affect the European continent and what future concerns and worries await us.
Just minutes after Poroshenko's fearmongering speech to US Congress (and in the face of a collapsing Ukraine economy), The White House has released its "fact sheet" to explain exactly how committed (aside from the lethal aid demands - which may or may not be happening as we noted here) to supprting Ukraine the US taxpayer is... On top of guaranteeing $1 billion of Ukraine's debt, a further $291 million in 'assistance' has been flooded in... here's what for...
No, this is not from The Onion. Bloomberg reports that six U.S. army helicopters landed in a rapeseed field in northern Poland to ask for directions after veering off course on their way back from military exercises. Locals were alarmed and explained, "we know that security is the most important thing right now... But thank God it was the Americans." We wonder how long before Sikorski proclaims this an invasion and demands NATO react...
As reported ealier this morning, here, courtesy of Bloomberg, are the nominees for the next European Commission under the presidency of Jean-Claude "If Serioues Then lie" Juncker, with one from each of the European Union’s 28 countries. Job assignments were announced today by the incoming president, Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg. What do these appointments mean for the European Union? The attached flash analysis from Open Europe should answer most initial questions.
While NATO is contemplating its existential purpose in a world where the Cold War has suddenly come back with a vengeance, and the military alliance has found itself woefully unprepared to deal with a Russia which no longer accepts the supremacy of the west (appropriately enough NATO is doing this on a golf course) Russia is also strategizing, only instead of issuing "sharply-worded catchphrases" and hashtags, a Russian general has called for Russia to revamp its military doctrine, last updated in 2010, to clearly identify the U.S. and its NATO allies as Moscow's enemy number one. That in itself is not disturbing: we reported as much yesterday and is merely more rhetorical posturing. Where things, however, get very problematic is that the general demands that Russia spell out the conditions under which the country would launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the 28-member military alliance.
As is well-known, tomorrow, September 4, a NATO summit begins in Wales to discuss and coordinate the western response to ongoing "Russian intervention" in Ukraine (not to be confused by US intervention in Ukraine meant to remove an standing, democratically-elected president), a summit for which Barack Obama has demonstrated impressive enthusiasm following his blitz tour of Europe, a continent reeling on the edge of a recessionary abyss courtesy of the "costs" Obama has imposed on Germany Russia in the aftermath of the Victoria Nuland-instituted local Kiev government. Perhaps it has something to do with this...
Overview of the ECB meeting and likely outcomes. More robust analysis than ideological fervor.
While only 'humanitarian adviser' boots on the ground are present in Iraq (and Syria), Reuters reports that preparations are under way near Ukraine's western border for a joint military exercise this month with more than 1,000 troops from the United States and its allies. As Obama told reporters last week, "that a military solution to this problem is not going to be forthcoming," it seems a little odd 'strategically' to go ahead with the Rapid Trident exercise Sept. 16-26 as a sign of the commitment of NATO states to support non-NATO member Ukraine, entailing the first significant deployment of U.S. and other personnel to Ukraine since the crisis erupted.
Confirming Europe's realization just how serious events are, and how far down the rabbit hole Europe's bureaucrats have gone, French President Francois Hollande, while stressing that a failure by Russia to reverse a flow of weapons and troops into eastern Ukraine would force the bloc to impose new economic measures i.e., nothing new, it is what he said just after that indicated a dramatic change in rhetoric: "Are we going to let the situation worsen, until it leads to war?" Hollande said at a news conference. "Because that's the risk today. There is no time to waste."
In the USA, instead of "boots on the ground," we have 'humanitarian advisors' on the battlefield - because it's so important to manage the iPad -fiddling public's perception of how hawkish politicians are. However, for the various nations opining upon the ongoing events in Ukraine, finding just the right word is simply stunning... as descriptions of the conflict soften as one more from East to West. However, as Ian Bremmer notes, “Russia and Ukraine as sovereign countries are now at war and it’s going to be very difficult for the United States and Europe to deny that reality.”
A look at German politics and upcoming state elections.
Just days after Russia banned the import of various foods from sanctions-supporting nations, VZ reports Russia's food safety ministry Rosselhoznadzor has discovered fruit being smuggled in via Belarus that was restamped as being from Zimbabwe and various other non-sanctioned nations. It appears the smuggling nation culprits are Poland, Slovenia, and Greece and Russia is now "actively monitoring the situation," suggesting they may extend import bans to Belarus also if the situation continues. In addition, Rosselhoznadzor intends in the future to move to a system of electronic certification of goods in transit.
If a trader knew nothing about the growth, the debt, the inflation, the exporters vs. importers, the serial defaulters, currency manipulators, hot-money or conversely deflation fighters; simply grouping the nations of the world on whether they were 'friend' or 'foe' to the US would provide an odd highly correlated value perspective on the interest rates paid on 1yr and 10yr sovereign debt... It appears your status with the central bank cabal was more important than your ability to repay the loaned money?
Despite the ongoing mainstream media meme that Russia is becoming 'isolated' from the rest of the world thanks to Western sanctions, it appears they have found a few new 'old' friends to become un-isolated with. On the heels of Russia's food-import-ban sanctions last week, Russian and Chinese officials have announced an agreement that China will start selling fruit and vegetables directly to Russia via a special logistics center in Russia's far east. Notably, this week saw Russia's GDP beat consensus expectations, Ruble rally, and stocks jump as German confidence plunged - can you say blowback?